Editorial: School board owes the public an explanation

Posted 6/24/22

The drama is over, and Deb DiBiase is no longer principal of Mt. Hope High School. She announced on Wednesday morning that she had accepted another administrative position within the district, ending …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Not a subscriber?


Start a Subscription

Sign up to start a subscription today! Click here to see your options.

Purchase a day pass

Purchase 24 hours of website access for $2. Click here to continue

Day pass subscribers

Are you a day pass subscriber who needs to log in? Click here to continue.


Editorial: School board owes the public an explanation

Posted

The drama is over, and Deb DiBiase is no longer principal of Mt. Hope High School. She announced on Wednesday morning that she had accepted another administrative position within the district, ending her eight-year tenure as high school principal.

If some are wondering why, understand she had no choice. She was not invited back to her job; this was the only option presented to her.

The whole affair is baffling, as “Dr. D.” is not just popular within the high school community, she is beloved.

She brought energy and optimism to her school, and she encouraged students to be unique, to be individuals, and to discover whatever it is that they love to learn. She fostered a culture of learning — not a bad quality for any high school leader. We have not seen any other educational leader in the last 30 years, in any of the seven East Bay school districts we regularly cover, who inspired as much passionate support as she has.

But some in the Bristol Warren Regional School Committee wanted her gone, and they got their wish. The big question is why — and why now?

Just up the road, the state’s top public high school also will be without a principal in a week’s time. Longtime Barrington High School Principal Joe Hurley is retiring. That district has been conducting a search for months and has not found his replacement. Two finalists for the job both dropped out late in the process.

Considering Bristol Warren has not even begun a search, what are its prospects for finding a quality replacement within weeks?

This is a critical time for school administrators. While students and staff kick back and relax for much of the summer, principals typically face demanding challenges — interviewing and hiring for open positions, organizing departments, overseeing building repairs and readiness. What is the justification for ousting Dr. D now, just to get rid of her, rather than extending at least a one-year contract as principal to provide stability and long-term succession planning for the high school?

Regardless of their justification, school committee members still must answer that overarching question — why? We suspect they won’t. They may hide behind the superintendent, using her as a shield for why they were never presented with a principal’s contract for Deb DiBiase. Or they could hide behind exaggerated “privacy” claims, ducking accountability by saying they can’t discuss personnel situations in public.

Neither defense holds water. This personnel decision has already played out in public, and the public deserves answers, dubious or otherwise.

2022 by East Bay Newspapers

Barrington · Bristol · East Providence · Little Compton · Portsmouth · Tiverton · Warren · Westport
Meet our staff
Mike Rego

Mike Rego has worked at East Bay Newspapers since 2001, helping the company launch The Westport Shorelines. He soon after became a Sports Editor, spending the next 10-plus years in that role before taking over as editor of The East Providence Post in February of 2012. To contact Mike about The Post or to submit information, suggest story ideas or photo opportunities, etc. in East Providence, email mrego@eastbaymediagroup.com.